Liverpool - Sevilla Europa League Final Preview: Reds looking to end silverware drought in Basel

Liverpool will take part in their first European final in nine years on Wednesday evening as they travel to Basel, Switzerland to face La Liga outfit Sevilla in the final of the UEFA Europa League looking to return to Merseyside with their first piece of silverware under Jürgen Klopp.

Liverpool - Sevilla Europa League Final Preview: Reds looking to end silverware drought in Basel
(Picture: VAVEL UK/Jonny Walsh)

Jürgen Klopp looks for his first piece of silverware as Liverpool manager as his side take on reigning champions Sevilla in the UEFA Europa League final in Basel's St. Jakob-Park on Wednesday evening.

Thousands will descend upon Switzerland from Merseyside as the Reds attempt to end their four-year wait for a trophy and an 11-year drought without European glory, with Klopp looking to guide them to a first trophy inside just seven months of his Anfield tenure.

The journey to Basel represents their second final already under the German, whose side lost out on penalties to Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final back in February.

But they face one of the toughest possible opponents in Sevilla, who come into the game vying for their third consecutive Europa League triumph and a record-breaking fifth win in total as the tournament's most successful ever team.

The La Liga outfit sit a lowly 7th after Saturday's final day, eight points off a European spot and 12 off qualification for the UEFA Champions League, but they have been their formidable selves in continental competition.

Klopp has inspired the Reds to an incredible Europa League run this season. (Picture: Getty Images)
Klopp has inspired the Reds to an incredible Europa League run this season. (Picture: Getty Images)

They dropped out of Europe's top-tier this season, finishing third in a group containing Man City, Juventus and Borussia Mönchengladbach after losing four consecutive games, but have been dominant since in sweeping aside Molde, Basel, Athletic Bilbao and Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Reds have faced a much tougher route to a first European final since 2007. They topped a group consisting of Sion, Rubin Kazan and Bordeaux before edging past Augsburg, rivals Manchester United, pre-tournament favourites Borussia Dortmund and Villarreal to book their place in the final.

Klopp and co.'s domestic campaign has been equally frustrating, with injuries and the sheer amount of games they have played wrecking their chances of a top-four finish. A 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday condemned them to a eighth-placed finish in the Barclays Premier League as they signed off for the season.

That means that whilst this game, clearly, offers the opportunity to win prized silverware on a huge stage - it also offers both clubs their only chance of reaching next season's Champions League, with the winners securing a place in the group stages of the competition next term.

Sevilla's glittering history, all of it recent with four wins inside the last 10 years, makes them the favourites - but Liverpool have thrived on an underdog status on nights like this before. Now it's up to Klopp and his players to write another chapter in a long, long story of Liverpool and their love affair with European football.

Team news:

Liverpool have been dealt a huge boost by the returns of captain Jordan Henderson and striker Divock Origi from knee and ligament injuries respectively.

Henderson returned at the weekend's trip to West Brom and played for 25 minutes as he came back from an injury which had sidelined him since the trip to Dortmund on April 7 where he sustained the problem.

Origi, meanwhile, has missed the last seven games with a severe ankle injury he picked up in the Merseyside Derby thrashing of Everton on April 20 but was on Monday's flight to Switzerland with the rest of the first-team squad after returning to training at Melwood last week.

That means Liverpool have a near fully-fit squad to call upon, with back-up goalkeeper Danny Ward the only other recent absentee with a minor knee injury - although he will be back on the substitutes bench' in Basel.

James Milner is expected to captain the Reds with Henderson likely to start from the bench, with Klopp likely to return to the starting line-up which took on Chelsea in the league a week ago - meaning Daniel Sturridge could lead the line with Philippe CoutinhoRoberto Firmino and Adam Lallana supporting him.

Elsewhere, Emre Can, Dejan LovrenNathaniel Clyne and Simon Mignolet are among those expected to return to the Liverpool XI.

Sevilla will have Yevhen Konoplyanka in the side with the winger having returned to the squad despite complaining of muscle discomfort in training last week, but left-back Benoit Tremoulinas is out after rupturing the meniscus on his left knee, which he has since had successful surgery on.

Of those involved in the weekend's league defeat to Athletic Bilbao, only Konoplyanka, Adil RamiVicente Iborra and Timothee Kolodziejczak are likely to be involved.

Unai Emery has few missing players though Marco Andreolli and Michael Krohn-Delli will miss out while veteran Jose Antonio Reyes, formerly of Arsenal, is struggling for fitness and is expected to only make the bench if he proves his fitness in time

Road to Basel:


Liverpool thrashed Villarreal in their semi-final second-leg to reach this showpiece occasion. (Picture: Getty Images)
Liverpool thrashed Villarreal in their semi-final second-leg to reach this showpiece occasion. (Picture: Getty Images)

Group B matchday one: Bordeaux 1-1 Liverpool (Lallana)
Group B matchday two: Liverpool 1-1 Sion (Lallana)
Group B matchday three: Liverpool 1-1 Sion (Can)
Group B matchday four: Rubin Kazan 0-1 Liverpool (Ibe)
Group B matchday five: Liverpool 2-1 Bordeaux (Milner, Benteke)
Group B matchday six: Sion 0-0 Liverpool
Round of 32 first-leg: Augsburg 0-0 Liverpool
Round of 32 second-leg: Liverpool 1-0 Augsburg (Milner)
Round of 16 first-leg: Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United (Sturridge, Firmino)
Round of 32 second-leg: Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool (Coutinho)
Quarter-final first-leg: Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Liverpool (Origi)
Quarter-final second-leg: Liverpool 4-3 Borussia Dortmund (Origi, Coutinho, Sakho, Lovren)
Semi-final second-leg: Villarreal 1-0 Liverpool 
Semi-final second-leg: Liverpool 3-0 Villarreal (Soriano O.G, Sturridge, Lallana)


Sevilla celebrate beating Shakhtar to seal a third consecutive berth in the final. (Picture: Getty Images)
Sevilla celebrate beating Shakhtar to seal a third consecutive berth in the final. (Picture: Getty Images)

(dropped in from Champions League group stages)

Round of 32 first-leg: Sevilla 3-0 Molde (Llorente x2, Gameiro)
Round of 32 second-leg: Molde 1-0 Sevilla 
Round of 16 first-leg: Basel 0-0 Sevilla
Round of 32 second-leg: Sevilla 3-0 Basel (Rami, Gameiro x2)
Quarter-final first-leg: Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Sevilla (Kolodziejczak, Iborra)
Quarter-final second-leg: Sevilla 1-2 Athletic Bilbao (Gameiro) (5-4 pens)
Semi-final second-leg: Shakhtar Donetsk 2-2 Sevilla (Vitolo, Gameiro)
Semi-final second-leg: Sevilla 3-1 Shakhtar Donetsk (Gameiro x2, Mariano)

Recent form:


Form in UEFA Europa League: DDWLW
Form in all competitions: LWWDD


Form in UEFA Europa League: WWWDW
Form in all competitions: DLWLL

Match facts:

The two teams have never met before in competitive football. 

Sevilla have won their last two meetings against English sides in the Europa League, beating Tottenham Hotspur 4-3 over two legs in 2006 and Middlesbrough 4-0 in the final in 2005. 

In total, Sevilla's record against English teams reads: P8, W3, D2, L3.

By contrast, Liverpool's record is: P34, W14, D10, L10. 

Both sides have emerged as the winning team against either English or Spanish opposition in the final, Sevilla beating Middlesbrough 11 years ago and the Reds getting the better of both Real Madrid and Deportivo Alavés in the final of the European Cup and the then-named UEFA Cup.

Sevilla are the first club ever to reach the final of the Europa League, or the UEFA Cup, for three straight seasons. No team has ever won three consecutive titles in a major UEFA competition since Bayern Munich won a third European Champion Clubs' Cup in a row in 1976.

Neither of the two sides have ever lost in a UEFA Cup/Europa League final, but Sevilla have won two of their four triumps via a penalty shoot-out.

Four of the last six titles have gone to a Spanish team, Atletico Madrid winning twice in addition to Sevilla. Just one has gone to an English side, when Chelsea beat Benfica in 2012-13.

Should Sevilla win, Spain would become the most successful country in this competition having won ten times, taking them above Italy. Liverpool winning would represent England's eighth victory.

Liverpool have lost just once in 14 UEFA Europa League games this season (W6 D7 L1) - a 1-0 defeat away at Villarreal in the semis.

St. Jakob-Park, the host stadium for the final on Wednesday night. (Picture: Telegraph)
St. Jakob-Park, the host stadium for the final on Wednesday night. (Picture: Telegraph)

Since transferring from the Champions League group stages, Sevilla have lost only two of their eight knockout round matches.

The Reds have yet to win at St. Jakob-Park, losing away to Basel in the 2014-15 and 2002-03 Champions League group stages.

Sevilla have only ever made the trip to Basel once, in this season's Europa League in the round of 16 when they drew 0-0.

Liverpool full-back Alberto Moreno came through the ranks at home-town club Sevilla, making 62 first-team appearances before joining the Reds in 2014 for a fee around £12 million.

Kevin Gameiro goes into the final having scored in each of his previous three UEFA Europa League games, with seven in total. He needs a hat-trick in the final to level with top goalscorer Aritz Aduriz.

Liverpool's top scorer is Adam Lallana with just three throughout the competition, but they have scored 18 total goals in comparison to Sevilla's 14, albeit in more matches and with twice as many attempts on goal (235 to 102).

Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has played in all 1,260 minutes of Liverpool's European campaign and is the only player remaining to do so.

Man in the middle:

Eriksson in action in his sole Europa League match this season. (Picture: Getty Images)
Eriksson in action in his sole Europa League match this season. (Picture: Getty Images)

42-year-old Jonas Eriksson is the man who the UEFA Referees Committee have selected for the final, the Swedish official one of 18 selected referees for the UEFA European Championships in France this summer.

Eriksson is no stranger to stages such as this. He took charge of the 2013 UEFA Super Cup between Chelsea and Bayern Munich and was also present at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil in 2014.

More recently, he was the fourth official for Barcelona's UEFA Champions League final victory over Juventus in Berlin last season and has taken one Europa League and five Champions League games this season, including Bayern's 4-2 win after extra-time over Juventus in the second-leg of their Round of 16 clash.

Coincidentally, Eriksson was the also the nominated match official for Liverpool's last trip to St. Jakob-Park when Basel beat Brendan Rodgers' side 1-0 in the Champions League group stages back in October 2014, while he was also in charge for a 2-1 defeat away at Benfica in the Europa League quarter-finals in April 2010.

A multi-millionaire after selling his stake in a Swedish sports media rights business in 2007, and a former journalist, Eriksson has been in the spotlight previously after wrongly awarding a penalty and dismissing Manchester City defender Martin Demichelis in their 2-0 loss to Barcelona in the 2013-14 Champions League. Afterwards, he was accused by City boss Manuel Pellegrini of being in Barcelona's favour and not being impartial.

He has taken one previous game involving Sevilla and a British club, when he oversaw the Spaniards' 4-1 win over Rangers in the Champions League back in 2009 - earning criticism for not awarding a penalty to the Scottish outfit in the first-half, with Gordon Strachan branding him "not good enough" after the game.